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The idea of a universal comments section for the whole World Wide Web has been around for some time, with plug-ins such as ‘Third Voice’. However, there was always one big problem with it: adoption. For some reason, people never really got comfortable with the idea of having comments on any Web site on the ’Net.
If anyone can make it happen, though, it’s Google. The search engine giant has released its new service, called SideWiki, which lets users leave a comment about any webpage for others to see, making it a helpful, community-based exercise.
“What if everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, had an easy way of sharing their insights with you about any page on the web? What if you could add your own insights for others who are passing through?” asks the official blog post
on the new technology.
Here’s a brief video explaining how it works:
The comments themselves have a cool way of being displayed. The idea of ‘most recent comments go first’ would not help in such a Wiki-based scenario, and the need of the hour is relevance and utility.
“Instead of displaying the most recent entries first, we rank Sidewiki entries using an algorithm that promotes the most useful, high-quality entries. It takes into account feedback from you and other users, previous entries made by the same author and many other signals we developed,” the Googlers write, adding a link
to the Google Research blog for those seeking more information about the ranking system.
But there is one big problem with SideWiki: It’s available only through the Google Toolbar at the moment. Going by the comments at various sites such as TechCrunch
, a lot of people who want to use the service won’t be going in for it due to the troublesome Google Toolbar.
However, this should not be a problem for long. Google has announced that it has already started working on integrating the technology into its browser, Google Chrome. And what’s more, Google has released the API for the new service, so Firefox extensions, IE plug-ins and other such browser- and website-integration options should be available soon, doing away with the need to install the clunky Google Toolbar.
Of course, if you can’t wait that long, head to the Google SideWiki page
and download the toolbar for your browser immediately.
UPDATE: After delving into the Google SideWiki API, Think Digit found that it's still restricted to a read-only approach and does not allow users to comment with it.